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Properly Cleaning Mixing Console Faders
Cleaning a fader is not brain surgery, but it takes practice and a lot of care. Here's how to go about it - successfully.
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With relatively new faders in particular, do as little as possible in order not to undo the original lubrication.
Related Tags
  Audio Basics, Recording, Live Sound, Console, Mixer, Maintenance

Level 3
The fader is still feeling a little rough? Time to try a little lubrication. The key word is “little” – use as little as possible.

Did I mention not to use too much lubrication? Third time’s the charm – lubrication collects dust, so don’t overdo it! 

Depending on the type of fader, I use a precision dropper to place just a few drops of lubrication in the fader, or give it just a quick squirt.

Exercise the fader and then blow away the excess with compressed air. Again with the compressed air?

Figure 4: The basic parts of a typical fader, and where they’re located.

Seriously, this helps spread the lubrication into a thin film and gets rid of any excess.

I’ve had good results with a spray lubrication called Tefrawn, made by Rawn. It’s Teflon-based and beneficial to the self-lubricating type plastics noted earlier.

Also, it smells like bananas, not that it matters!) Caig also offers products of this type. 

Lesson learned the hard way: some oils react with plastic, causing it to break down. If there’s any doubt, test it out on a spare fader first before applying.

Figure 5: Be careful not to damage the wiper, which can ruin the fader.

Also, certain faders use thicker grease that results in a “smoother” feel, and these may actually feel too loose after lubrication.

If this proves bothersome, use silicon or petroleum grease (but not bacon grease!). I’ve found this step to be more trouble than it’s worth - if “feel” is that important, buy new faders.

Time to reiterate:  “Air > Cleaner > Air > Lubrication > Air” About 30 seconds of effort for each fader.

Figure 6: Under and around the rails, but don’t touch the carriage.

Total Rebuild
Some of the more expensive faders are designed to be easily taken apart for cleaning.

If less expensive faders can’t be cleaned using the steps already outlined, it may not be cost-effective to go any further.

Consider replacement, but if it’s an emergency, keep in mind that you’ll be dealing with tiny parts that are easy to break and lose.


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